Uganda Arrests 19 Linked to ‘Imminent’ Terror Attack
Ugandan security forces have thwarted a cell of Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked Al Shabaab insurgents apparently “planning for an imminent attack,” the US embassy said Saturday. Ugandan police arrested 19 people in connection with a foiled attack in central Kampala that the United States has said was hatched by Somali militants al Shabaab.
The US Embassy congratulated President Museveni on the arrests.
According to News sources:
The discovery of the alleged cell came as Kenya prepares to mark the first anniversary since al Shabaab gunmen killed 67 people in an attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall. The militant Islamists have threatened more attacks since the killing of its leader in a U.S. strike earlier this month.Ugandan authorities say they have increased security at hotels and other key sites including Entebbe International Airport since making the arrests.
They have declined to say if al Shabaab was behind the alleged plot, although the U.S. embassy in Uganda had on Saturday said the cell was run by militant group.Uganda, as one of the countries that contribute forces to an African Union peacekeeping mission battling al Shabaab in Somalia, has suffered militant attacks in recent years. In 2010, al Shabaab bombed sports bars in Uganda where people were watching the soccer World Cup on television. The group has been reasserting itself in recent days following the death of leader Ahmed Godane and the appointment of his successor, little-known Ahmad Umar.
Last week, the group targeted two military convoys near the capital Mogadishu and on Saturday the group gunned down a senior Somali national security officer in his car, according to local police and an al Shabaab spokesman. In comments last Monday, Fuad Mohamed Khalaf Shongole, a senior al Shabaab official, said he would target Americans in New York and Washington, and “capture Kenya and Uganda.”
Last Monday the US embassy warned that Shebab insurgents may try to exact revenge for a US air strike that killed the militant group’s commander.
“Stay alert to the ongoing potential for terrorist attacks in Uganda,” it said.
“We also caution US citizens of the possibility of retaliatory attacks in Uganda by Al Shabaab in response to the US and Ugandan military actions in Somalia last week which killed Al Shabaab leader Ahmed Godane.”
Uganda’s government said the country — a major contributor to AMISOM, the African Union force fighting the Al Shabaab — was “happy” at death of Godane, and had provided the US with key intelligence on his whereabouts.
Uganda’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said immigration officers had carried out an “operation on illegal immigrant workers in different parts of Kampala” on Saturday morning, with 69 people arrested.
It was not clear if the raids were connected.
The Al Shabaab insurgents have claimed recent attacks in Kenya and Djibouti, and at home in Somalia.
During the World Cup final four years ago, Al Shabaab insurgents killed at least 76 people after setting off explosions that ripped through two restaurants in Kampala.
CURRENT US WARNINGS:
Based on coordination with Ugandan authorities, and taking into account the heightened security measures the government has put in place, we believe that the immediate threat of an al-Shabaab attack has been effectively countered. We remain vigilant to the possibility that some of the attack cell could still be at large, but we believe that it is appropriate to rescind the guidance to shelter-in-place. We urge, however, that all U.S. citizens maintain heightened security awareness given the ongoing potential for terrorist attacks in Uganda. Please continue to monitor email and news outlets for any updates. http://kampala.usembassy.gov/warden_information.html